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40 Years After Jonestown, Moscone And Milk

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(AP Photo/File)

This file photo from April 1977 shows San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk in the mayor's office during the signing of the city's gay rights bill in San Francisco

KQED’s Senior Politics Editor Scott Shafer hosts this in-depth look at life after the Jonestown massacre and the assassination of George Moscone and Harvey Milk.

He will hear from the people who knew and worked with Moscone and Milk, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, about how the moment changed their lives, as well as the trajectory of San Francisco and the nation. We’ll hear how young people still feel a connection to these slain leaders, even if they don’t know much about them, and we’ll talk with Steve Talbot, the writer of the new PBS documentary about George Moscone to better understand the groundbreaking career and life of a liberal icon who has often been overshadowed by Milk.

In the second half of the special, we will recount the rise of the People’s Temple, a San Francisco group led by Reverend Jim Jones, and its tragic end when nearly 1,000 men, women and children committed mass suicide in the small South American country of Guyana on Nov. 18, 1978.

But the majority of the discussion will focus on the story of one man, Robert Spencer, who was just a kid when the mass suicide took place and was told that one of the women who died, Jim Jones’ adopted daughter Agnes, was his biological mom. Now an adult, Spencer has decided to dig deeper into his family tree, even as others ask him: do you really want to know?

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